Book Review

The Ghost of Ivy Barn – Mark Stay

Hot on the heels of The Crow Folk and Babes in the Wood comes the third book in Mark Stay’s wonderful Witches of Woodville series, The Ghost of Ivy Barn, and I am delighted to be joining the blog tour to celebrate its publication today. Many thanks to Mark and Simon & Schuster for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

August, 1940.

As the Battle of Britain rages overhead, a warlock leader from the Council of High Witches comes to Woodville with a ritual to repel the imminent Nazi invasion. The only catch is it involves full-frontal nudity on the White Cliffs of Dover. The Witches of Woodville are having none of it, but when more witches arrive they realise they might have a spy in their midst, and it’s up to Faye Bright to uncover the traitor. But she’s got enough on her plate already with the ghost of a Polish Hurricane pilot who may hold the key to the truth.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Waterstones

REVIEW:

Well, this is a series that just keep getting better and better. Whilst not as dark as Babes in the Wood, The Ghost of Ivy Barn is packed full of emotion and magical hijinks, making it an absolute joy to visit Woodville once again. Miss Charlotte and Mrs Teach are in fine fettle as the witchy double act return to continue Faye’s magical education, and it was a delight to witness the continuing romance between Faye and Bertie.

All my favourite characters from the previous books were present and correct, but this time they were joined by a few new faces – some of whom were more keen than others to complete their Nazi repelling ritual skyclad!

Whether it is down to the already delicate state I was in while reading, I can’t say, but there was more than one point towards the end of this book that brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye, so you might want to keep the tissues close by.

If you are new to Mr Stay’s work, please check out his unboxing videos on his Facebook page and sign up for his newsletter – you are in for a treat with both!

The Witches of Woodville is a series that never fails to put a smile on my face, and I look forward to future books!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. He is co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and has worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com

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Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in the tour for this magical book.

Book Review

The Cactus Surgeon: Using Nature to Fix a Faulty Brain – Hannah Powell

I have the honour today of joining the blog tour for The Cactus Surgeon by Hannah Powell. Many thanks to Hannah for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

Living in London, Hannah suffered burnout and was diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder. With no information available to help her, she found her own way to get better.

Growing up in a garden centre, her childhood was full of nature and plants. This was in stark contrast to the concrete of the capital, where she became unwell. In searching for the answers to her illness, she wonders whether being torn from her pot and replanted in a more hostile environment was the reason her body started to malfunction.

After seeking out alternative therapies, and moving to the countryside of North Essex, her ‘green recovery’ continued.

It’s a book of mindful moments, savouring the small wonders of nature.

REVIEW:

Well, I certainly got more than I bargained for with this book! I had expected a gentle book full of tips on mindfulness and the ways in which being outside can help improve mental health, and while it is that in part, it is also so very much more. The Cactus Surgeon is a raw, emotional read in which Hannah bravely lays herself and her struggles wide open. I can imagine that writing this book was incredibly cathartic. A lot of the emotions that Hannah experienced on the path to diagnosis and beyond really resonated with me, and I found reading about her experiences quite inspiring.

The Cactus Surgeon is a love story, both to Hannah’s family and the family business, and to the outside world as a whole. Beautiful photos separate each chapter and her lush descriptions of a huge variety of flora and fauna made me yearn for warmer weather, while her adventures in Australia and New Zealand ignited a long dormant travel bug.

The Cactus Surgeon was exactly the book I needed to read at this moment in my life, so thank you Hannah, so much, for sharing your story. I will be checking out many, if not all, of the books you recommend in bibliography.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Hannah Powell (née Bourne) is Communications and HR Director for the Perrywood Garden Centres she runs with her dad and two brothers. When she was six years old, she wanted to be a cactus surgeon.

Before coming back into the family business, she had a successful career in PR and marketing, running high-profile campaigns for clients, including Barclaycard and Domino’s Pizza. She was part of the team that launched Global Entrepreneurship Week, an annual campaign to encourage young people to set up businesses worldwide.

She now lives in North Essex with her husband, daughter and many plants.

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Book Review

Sparks and Shadows – Ceara Nobles

BLURB:

Seattle is full of monsters, and I’m the only one who can see them.

I’ve spent the last 17 years (AKA my whole life) pretending I can’t see the monsters who disguise themselves as humans. I may not have a place to live and my best friend may be moments away from getting in too deep with the city’s most dangerous drug lord, but I’m rolling with the status quo.

That is, until I save my arch enemy’s stupid life and find myself in a warehouse full of monsters.

Next thing I know, I’m in Monster Land (AKA not Seattle) and up to my ears in monsters, magic, and inevitable mayhem. If I want to get home, I have to join a band of revolutionaries and stay alive long enough to get back through the portal before war breaks out.

This’ll be a cinch.

Sparks and Shadow is a modern, action-packed YA portal fantasy featuring Fae mythology, magic, and slow-burn romance. This is the first book in the Rising Elements series.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

When I first read the blurb for this book, I was instantly curious about the monsters hiding in plain sight in Seattle, only visible in their true form to one teenage girl. I wasn’t too sure what to expect but I wanted to know what they were doing there, and why they had left the strange “Monster Land” that Everly finds herself sucked into, but I definitely wasn’t expecting what I got.

Everly is a feisty, strong-willed heroine, but it was the inhabitants of “Monster Land” that really got under my skin. I loved gentle souled Mina, and I quickly fell for the mysterious Shadow. I am looking forward to finding out more about him in future books in this series.

The strange land that Ceara Nobles has crafted was vividly clear to me as I read, and I was as caught up in the wonder of it as Everly was herself.

Sparks and Shadow is a bit of a slow burn, with not a lot of action until right at the end of the book. There is, however, a lot of scene setting and relationship building for what is to come in the next book of the series, and from what I have seen so far, I am excited to discover what is going to happen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ceara Nobles is a Utah-based author of romantic suspense and fantasy novels. She graduated from the University of Utah in 2016 with a B.A. in Computer Animation, then realized she hated it. Now she spends her days juggling her side hustle as a line editor and her true love of authorship. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her chasing her toddler, road tripping with her hubby, or hiding in bed with a chai and a good book.

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Book Review

The Embroidered Book – Kate Heartfield

I am joining the blog tour for the exquisite historical fantasy novel The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield today. Many thanks to Kate and to Harper Voyager for my copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

“Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all.”

1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.

The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.

In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives.

But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turn to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

The Embroidered Book is a beast of a book, but despite its size, I found I read it quite quickly as I was captivated by the story. Part historical fiction, part fantasy, The Embroidered Book is full of magic and intrigue, all based around one of the most interesting and turbulent periods of European history.

Kate Heartfield’s attention to detail and the level of research that must have gone into this project is incredible. It must have been a real labour of love, and I felt that this comes through in the writing.

I think Charlotte and Antoine’s stories would have been fascinating enough on their own, given their place in history, but the addition of magic and a secret society made this all the more appealing to me. Kate Heartfield weaves magic and history together so artfully that it seems more than plausible that these two astonishing women had access to hidden skills. It would certainly explain a lot of what went on throughout the period!

Despite knowing how this story must end, I still found myself on the edge of my seat, willing the sisters on to a different ending to their tempestuous relationship. I was totally under their spell from start to finish. Kate Heartfield is, quite simply, a genius.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel out in February 2022. Her debut novel won Canada’s Aurora Award, and her novellas, stories and games have been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.

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Book Review

The Wildest Hunt – Jo Zebedee

I have the honour of kicking of the blog tour for the dark fantasy novel, The Wildest Hunt by Jo Zebedee. Many thanks to Jo for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

A long-dead child.

An artist who paints the fae.

An ancient estate on blood-filled land.

The commission was close to Amelia’s dream: a cosy cottage in Donegal over Christmas and the chance to paint the beautiful Glenveagh estate. But when the weather closes in and the country shuts down, a ritual begins – one that traps Amelia in its circles of magic.

Stranded in a place where iron is power, her heart can no longer be trusted and the land itself is a weapon, Amelia’s survival depends on unravelling the truth of a decades-old death.

Even if it draws the same ancient danger to herself.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

Anyone who knows me knows that I find it hard to resist a book about the fae, and if there is even a sniff of the Wild Hunt, then I am totally sold. Add in the tempting combination of Christmas, snow and a trip to Ireland, and The Wildest Hunt was always going to be headed straight for the top of my TBR list!

The Wildest Hunt is a book that is chilling in more ways than one right from the appearance of the Grey Lady, through to the Donegal snowbomb. I always enjoy books where adverse weather becomes almost a character in its own right, especially when that weather is snow. Jo Zebedee’s snow covered landscape is so very atmospheric and the thought that something “other” was affecting the weather and the wildlife to prevent Amelia and Joe leaving gave me shivers. It gave the entire book a dark, malevolent air so that by the time the Hunt make their appearance, I was already on edge and expecting the worst.

The dual perspective kept me gripped and I was equally eager to be in both parts of the story, to uncover Jean’s secret and to see what was happening to Amelia and why. This is actually something that is quite unusual for me with books told from multiple points of view as there is usually one that I am more drawn to than the other. Because I was so invested in both women’s tales, I flew through this book in my enthusiasm to find out what was going to happen and what secrets were going to be revealed.

This is a beautifully crafted book that is tinged with sadness alongside the tension and drama as the heart-breaking truth of events at Glenveagh come to light.

The Wildest Hunt is a great Christmas read when you need a detox from all the sugar, and the sweet festive romances.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Listed as one of the Guardian’s Top 10 Irish Sci-Fi authors, Jo writes stories based both in her native Northern Ireland and her fictional world of Abendau.

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Book Review

Psychopaths Anonymous – Will Carver

Today I am joining the blog tour for Psychopaths Anonymous by Will Carver. Many thanks to Will and Orenda for providing me with a copy of the book, and also to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

BLURB:

When AA meetings make her want to drink more, alcoholic murderess Maeve sets up a group for psychopaths.

Maeve has everything. A high-powered job, a beautiful home, a string of uncomplicated one-night encounters. She’s also an addict: a functioning alcoholic with a dependence on sex and an insatiable appetite for killing men.

When she can’t find a support group to share her obsession, she creates her own. And Psychopaths Anonymous is born. Friends of Maeve.

Now in a serious relationship, Maeve wants to keep the group a secret. But not everyone in the group adheres to the rules, and when a reckless member raises suspicions with the police, Maeve’s drinking spirals out of control. She needs to stop killing. She needs to close the group. But Maeve can’t seem to quit the things that are bad for her, including her new man…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

When I signed up for the blog tour for Psychopaths Anonymous, I didn’t realise that it was connected to Will Carver’s other books, most of which I have read, but one or two I haven’t. However, that really isn’t an issue and you do not need to have read them for this book to be a great read. That said, if you have read them, keep your eyes peeled for Easter eggs tucked within the pages of Maeve’s life.

Maeve is a character who I found difficult to relate to, although that is probably no bad thing as she is, by her own admission, a murdering psychopath. At first, the lack of connection made for slow reading but it wasn’t long before I found her (mis)adventures utterly compelling. By the conclusion of the book, I really didn’t want it to end because I was desperate to discover what was going to happen next in Maeve’s life – I am really hoping for a follow up at some point in the future.

Usually, the cover of a book is one of the first things I notice, but for some reason (I am blaming it on a medication change) I completely didn’t register what the cover of Psychopaths Anonymous actually was. It was only when I was reading another review that it clicked and I am so glad it did, because it is utterly brilliant.

Entering into a new Will Carver book, you can never be too sure exactly what you are going to get, as he is the master of surprises. The one thing that is guaranteed though is that you will never be disappointed by what you find.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Will’s latest title published by Orenda Books, The Beresford, was published in July. His previous title, Hinton Hollow Death Trip, was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize, while Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph, and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

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Book Review

Babes In The Wood – Mark Stay

I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Babes In The Wood today, the second book in Mark Stay’s magical Witches of Woodville series.

BLURB:

July, 1940

In a quiet village in rural Kent, a magical mystery leads to murder . . .

Woodville has returned to ‘normal’ after the departure of the Crow Folk. The villagers put out fires from aircraft shot down in the Battle of Britain, and Faye Bright discovers that magic can be just as dangerous as any weapon.

The arrival of a trio of Jewish children fleeing the Nazis brings the fight for Europe to the village. When their guardian is found dead, Faye must play nanny to the terrified children while gathering clues to uncover a dark magic that threatens to change the course of the war. And she must do it quickly – the children have seen too much and someone wants them silenced for good.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Order here

REVIEW:

Regular readers will know that I adored The Crow Folk, book one in the Witches of Woodville series (read my review here). Although this is only the second book in the series, something about it felt so welcoming and familiar it was like being greeted by an old friend, and there was a sense of coming home.

Mark Stay doesn’t hang about in throwing the reader straight into the action as a plane falls from the sky right into Woodville within just a few sentences. As often seems to be the case in Woodville, nothing is straightforward, and the arrival of some surprise residents soon sees a fascinating story unraveling, and plucky, spirited Faye finds herself right in the heart of things once more. I love Faye’s attitude to life and she is fast becoming one of my favourite literary heroines.

In balance with the drama that unfolds, the story of the kindertransport arrivals is beautifully told and my heart bled for them,  and there were also little nods to the pandemic which made the book and the experiences of the characters feel very relatable, for example, Faye’s glasses steaming up when she puts her gas mask on, Charlotte’s comment about how there is more death around but that magic can’t solve sorrow. As much as I am all about the magic, it is these touches that really ensured this book has a permanent place in my heart.

Once again, Mark Stay has produced a book that is utterly charming, sometimes funny, and sometimes a little bit scary. It was a joy getting to know more of the colourful Woodville residents, and I am excited to keep doing so in future books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mark Stay co-wrote the screenplay for Robot Overlords which became a movie with Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, and premiered at the 58th London Film Festival. He is co-presenter of the Bestseller Experiment podcast and has worked in bookselling and publishing for over twenty-five years. He lives in Kent, England, with his family and a trio of retired chickens. He blogs and humblebrags over at markstaywrites.com.

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Book Review

A Wild Winter Swan – Gregory Maguire

Today I am joining the blog tour for festive fairy tale A Wild Winter Swan by Gregory Maguire. Many thanks to Harper 360 UK, and to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part, and providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Following her brother’s death and her mother’s emotional breakdown, Laura now lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, in a lonely townhouse she shares with her old-world, strict, often querulous grandparents. But the arrangement may be temporary. The quiet, awkward teenager has been getting into trouble at home and has been expelled from her high school for throwing a record album at a popular girl who bullied her. When Christmas is over and the new year begins, Laura may find herself at boarding school in Montreal.

Nearly unmoored from reality through her panic and submerged grief, Laura is startled when a handsome swan boy with only one wing lands on her roof. Hiding him from her ever-bickering grandparents, Laura tries to build the swan boy a wing so he can fly home. But the task is too difficult to accomplish herself. Little does Laura know that her struggle to find help for her new friend parallels that of her grandparents, who are desperate for a distant relative’s financial aid to save the family store.

As he explores themes of class, isolation, family, and the dangerous yearning to be saved by a power greater than ourselves, Gregory Maguire conjures a haunting, beautiful tale of magical realism that illuminates one young woman’s heartbreak and hope as she begins the inevitable journey to adulthood.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

Being a big fan of Wicked, I was eager to read this latest offering from Gregory Maguire, and while I may not have fallen for it quite as hard as I did for Wicked, I found it to be a charming book. The setting was beautiful – New York in the snow just screams Christmas and the writing brought it to life beautifully. I loved the sections written as Laura narrating her own life. These gave real insight into her character and how she viewed her own worth.

The frenetic preparations for a vast Christmas Eve feast add pace to what would otherwise be a fairly gentle story. Mary Bernice was a wonderfully colourful character and I could happily spend my days camped in her kitchen.

As I read, I wanted to know more and more about Hans. I know the original fairy tale, but where did this Hans come from? I found myself wondering if he was really there or if he was a figment of Laura’s imagination and it was her who trashed her room and the dining room, and whether his presence was some sort of mental health breakdown after everything she had been through. She had certainly had a lot to deal with and yet remained strangely naïve. This theory gave me a lot to think about as I read, and kept me hooked into the book throughout.

As a Christmas tale about a family dealing with a lot, this is a great book, but the fairy tale side of things felt a little under utilised. That said, it is a beautiful coming of age story and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gregory Maguire received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Centre for the Study of Children’s Literature from 1979-1985. In 1987 he co-founded Children’s Literature New England. He still serves as co-director of CLNE, although that organisation has announced its intention to close after its 2006 institute.

The bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. Wicked, now a beloved classic, is the basis for the Tony Awared-winning Broadway musical of the same name. Maguire has lecture on art, literature, and culture bother at home and abroad.

He has three adopted children and is married to painter Andy Newman. He lives with his family near Boston, Massacusetts.

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Book Review

London Clay – Tom Chivers

I have a fascinating non-fiction book to share with you all today, in the form of London Clay by Tom Chivers. Many thanks to Tom, and to Doubleday, for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

BLURB:

Part personal memoir, part lyrical meditation, London Clay takes us deep in to the nooks and crannies of a forgotten city: a hidden landscape long buried underneath the sprawling metropolis. Armed with just his tattered Streetfinder map, author Tom Chivers follows concealed pathways and explores lost islands, to uncover the geological mysteries that burst up through the pavement and bubble to the surface of our streets.

From Roman ruins to a submerged playhouse, abandoned Tube stations to ancient riverbeds, marshes and woodlands, this network of journeys combines to produce a compelling interrogation of London’s past. London Clay examines landscape and our connection to place, and celebrates urban edgelands: in-between spaces where the natural world and the city mingle, and where ghosts of the deep past can be felt as a buzzing in the skull. It is also a personal account of growing up in London, and of overcoming loss through the layered stories of the capital.

Written in rich and vivid prose, London Clay will inspire readers to think about what lies beneath their feet, and by doing so reveal new ways of looking at the city.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Waterstones

REVIEW:

London Clay is a fascinating read that is part history lesson, part geology lesson. Until reading this book, I had always thought I had something of a familiarity with London having visited regularly for both business and pleasure. I also thought I knew a fair amount about the city’s past lives, having a fondness for history. However, the more I read, the more I realised how totally oblivious I had been on my visits – I had walked so many of the streets, even attended meetings in some of the buildings mentioned, and yet I had no clue of what was around me and underneath my feet. 

This is a book that is positively overflowing with information, and is one that will require reading again because I am quite sure that I didn’t fully absorb everything on the first read. The time that has been dedicated to researching the “deep city” and the level of detail included is astounding.

There is a beautiful lyrical feel to the writing, and it came as no surprise to find out that Tom Chivers is a poet. London Clay reads like a love letter to London, and made me long for the day that I return for a visit – quite possibly with this book in my hand to retrace some of the steps that Tom Chivers took and try to really understand the rich history of the city.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tom Chivers is a poet and publisher. He is the author of two pamphlets and two full collections of poetry to date, and is director of the independent press Penned in the Margins. In 2008 he was the Bishopsgate Institute’s first writer in residence, and has appeared widely at events and made a number of contributions to radio, including presenting a 30 minute documentary for Radio 4. He has collaborated with the climate arts organisation Cape Farewell and conducts immersive walking tours of London. Chivers is currently an Associate Artist of the National Centre for Writing.

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Book Review

The Great Silence – Doug Johnstone

I am welcoming a familiar face back to my blog today, as I join the tour for The Great Silence, book three in Doug Johnstone’s Skelf series. Many thanks to Doug and Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

BLURB:

Keeping on top of the family funeral directors’ and private-investigation business is no easy task for the Skelf women, and when matriarch Dorothy discovers a human foot while walking the dog, a perplexing case presents itself.

Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: the mysterious circumstances of a dying women have led them into an unexpected family drama, Hannah’s new astrophysicist colleague claims he’s receiving messages from outer space, and the Skelfs’ teenaged lodger has a devastating experience.

Nothing is clear as the women are immersed ever deeper in their most challenging cases yet. But when the daughter of Jenny’s violent and fugitive ex-husband goes missing without a trace and a wild animal is spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, real danger presents itself, and all three Skelfs are in peril.

Taut, dark, warmly funny and unafraid to ask big questions – of us all – The Great Silence is the much-anticipated third instalment in the addictive, unforgettable Skelfs series.

PURCHASE LINKS:

REVIEW:

Having read the previous books in the Skelf series, picking up this third book felt a little like returning home after an absence, and despite all the death and danger, the warmth of the kitchen, filled with the Skelf women, both blood and honorary, felt like a big hug in book form. I love the familiarity of a book series such as this where you can really get to know the characters and watch them develop.

Although The Great Silence is a tense thriller in places, and a dark comedy in others, there is a delicate sensitivity to the tone when writing about the funeral parlour side of Skelf life. The Skelfs are women who care deeply about their clients, putting everything else aside to treat them with dignity and respect, and this is one of the things l love most about this series. It would be all too easy to make this side of the business a source of humour, and I think it says a lot about the the author that he has resisted doing this.

Throughout The Great Silence, there is both heartbreak and danger for each of the women, and it was interesting to see their reactions to this, and how they have all changed since the first book. I particularly enjoyed seeing how Abi has grown up, although her role in this book is particularly upsetting. It was also great to see another side to Archie as he assists in one particular aspect of an investigation this time around.

The Great Silence is a gripping thriller, with some real edge of your seat moments, exactly as you would expect from Doug Johnstone, but it is his creation of wonderfully strong yet vulnerable characters that make the Skelf series stand out from all the other thrillers out there. I very much look forward to seeing what scrapes they get themselves into in the next book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Doug Johnstone is the author of twelve previous novels, most recently The Big Chill (2020). Several of his books have been bestsellers and three, A Dark Matter (2020), Breakers (2019) and The Jump (2015), were shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions over the last decade – including at a funeral parlour ahead of writing A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for over twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three solo EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

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